The environment is not just our surroundings but also our home. It is our means of survival and provides us with all the resources that we need to not only survive but thrive.
How do we define the environment?
What do we understand by the term “Environment”? In a literal sense, the environment just refers to one’s surroundings; however when understood in the context of the natural world, the environment can be defined as the conditions in which a plant or animal thrives and operates. We are used to hearing people say that the environment should be protected but why is there so much emphasis on this principle? The environment is not just our surroundings but our home and the home of every living being on this planet.
Waterfalls as an example of the natural environment.
The dynamic between humans and the environment
Anthropological action has taken a toll on the environment, habitats have been destroyed, several plant and animal species have gone extinct or been endangered and in the process of urbanisation we have unknowingly endangered ourselves. The environment not only shelters us but also provides us with the essentials required for us to thrive such as food, water, oxygen and medicaments.
All natural phenomena also come under the umbrella of the “environment”. Anything within the bounds of nature that can be ecologically defined and characterised also comes under the term environment.
Built vs Natural environment
- Anything that is man-made can be considered as part of the ‘built environment’. Urban landscapes, human shelters, roads, buildings and even artificial lakes come under the built environment.
- The building of nests by birds and dams by beavers however comes under the natural environment as these animals build within the bounds of nature and use whatever nature provides them.
Buildings and construction sites
A forest as an example of a natural environment
The effects of anthropological actions on the environment
- It is impossible to talk about the environment without bringing up global warming and climate change. The actions of mankind have sped up the course of the sixth mass extinction and if something is not done immediately to curb these effects then we will have to face disastrous consequences in the next 20-30 years.
- The emission of greenhouse gases from industries, automobiles and other appliances has resulted in a steep spike in the global temperature leading to the melting of the polar ice caps thereby resulting in one natural disaster after the other such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes and droughts.
- Overexploitation of naturally occurring resources has also taken a toll on the environment. Now, barren land, abandoned mines and deforestation are a characteristic of the present world.
A forest fire (natural disaster)
The benefits we reap from the environment
The environment not only provides us with valuable resources but also services that we cannot put a monetary value on such as the purification of water and air, food production, air circulation, pollination required for optimum crop growth and yield, curbing of floods and other natural disasters.
Environmental resources and their value
- Wetlands are rich sources of nutrients that enable and support the growth of several organisms which in turn become sources of food and medicine.
- It has been scientifically proven that people who live close to nature are not only healthier physically but also mentally.
- Living in a clean, green environment is something that is a privilege in today’s day and age however being able to do so has multiple health benefits. We can never put a price on the services and the resources that the ecosystem provides us with so the least we can do is make sure that we take care of the environment and preserve it for the future generations so that they too can reap its benefits.
As barons of the earth, it is our responsibility to make sure that we preserve and protect the environment as we will not only be doing a favour to future generations but also ourselves. It is our home and who would want to destroy their home? The beautiful plains, mountains, waterfalls, and even deserts are ours to use but most importantly ours to protect.